The Daring Bubblegum Rescue

The Daring Bubblegum Rescue

Jul 18

Buddy was a fairly strange bird. I’ve talked about some of his eccentricities before, but there’s one story in particular that I always remember.

I didn’t chew gum much, growing up. I think I’d had Buddy over a year the first time he ever saw me chewing gum. Eating in front of him wasn’t anything new, but when he saw the strange, pink thing begin to inflate out of my mouth, he fussed.

Of course, he fussed all the time – it was one of his regular noises.  He factored it into his talking and babbling, and even did it to a lesser extent while “sleep mumbling” before bed. So I didn’t pay any particular attention to it as I continued to blow bubbles.

Looking back on it, I probably should’ve known that he was upset. He was running back and forth on top of his cage, fussing every few seconds while I blew bubbles and watched TV.

But I wasn’t actually paying attention to him. I was intent on my TV show, and at some point decided to make a very large bubble.

This was my ultimate mistake.

Buddy thought, I’m guessing, that the bubbles were something either growing out of my face or latching onto my face. Either way, they were something bad. But where they’d blown up and gone away in a split second up until now, here was a bubble that just kept getting bigger.

I’d blown it about half the size of my face when I heard him burst into flight, fussing furiously. He swooped right at my face. I expected him to swerve at the last second and land on my shoulder – feints like that were a game he played sometimes. But no – his eyes were on the monster attacking his best friend’s mouth.

Several things happened all at once. The bubble exploded without having actually reached it’s full size. Buddy shrieked and fluttered into my lap, half falling out of the air, and I yelped. My mom got up from the dining room where she’d been doing something, and came in to see what was wrong.

What she saw was me staring down at my parakeet, who was sitting in my lap. He was fluffed up and appeared very proud of himself, strutting back and forth across my jeans. I had popped bubble gum all over my face and glasses. And Buddy…well…

Buddy’s feet and leg feathers were covered in bubble gum.

I picked him up and my mom and I together cleaned him off (thankfully the gum wasn’t gooey – I used the rest of it from in my mouth to pull some of it off his legs, though I think he lost a few little leg feathers at the same time). Then I cleaned my glasses. Buddy was an incredibly agreeable bird – he let himself get cleaned off with minimal struggling. It’s a good thing I’d trained him from the day I got him (no matter how unintentionally) to be alright with being handled.

As we cleaned up, I told my mom what had happened and it was her who realized what it sounded like. Buddy had been upset by the bubble gum, thinking it was attacking me. When it got big enough that he thought he could land on it, he came swooping over to attack it and save me.

This also explained why he was fluffed up and excited once the bubble exploded. After all, he’d just killed the thing that was attacking me. Wasn’t I proud of him?

To this day, I can’t blow bubbles larger than a certain size without thinking of the day my five ounce parakeet risked his life to save me from dangerous, face-hugging bubble gum.

My First Buddy

My First Buddy

May 30

I remember a lot of things about Buddy. I hope to go into detail over future posts about him, but when I think of him, it’s the little things that stand out.

Buddy was purchased at a few weeks old from the erstwhile Great Barrier Reef Pet Store located in Houston, TX. It closed a few years after we got him – I don’t actually know when. Not long after Buddy passed away we went back to where he’d come from and found it closed.

But it’s Buddy’s life I want to celebrate.

Buddy was aptly named. He was my very first pet (well, aside from some fish that, I admit, I was not the best owner to). I had wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, and I was twelve years old when we brought Buddy the bird home.

Having never had a pet before, let alone a bird, I wasn’t too clear on just how different a bird is from a dog, in more than the obvious sense. Not knowing any better, I treated Buddy much like I’d have treated a puppy.

We brought him home on a Friday afternoon/evening (I don’t remember which). But I know the next day was Saturday because I have a vivid memory of waking up between 5:30am and 6:00am as I always did – because it was time for my Saturday morning shows.

Not Saturday morning cartoons, mind you – though some of them were. But I started my Saturdays with Jack Hannah’s Animal Adventures. And, being that it was a show about animals, I thought it was only appropriate that my new animal friend join me for it.

Buddy’s cage was in my bedroom at the time, set up on a card table in the corner. I opened the door and gently encouraged him to step onto my finger the way my mom and the pet store employee taught me to the night before. He stepped up after a moment, though his feathers smoothed down in what I now know was apprehension.

And who can blame him, really, for being nervous? Yesterday he was in a large cage with a bunch of other birds, and today he’s all alone except for this human who’s now…carrying him somewhere unknown. I’d be nervous too.

I carried him down the hall from my room and into the living room. I don’t remember if I put him on the couch cushion before I turned on the TV, but however it came to be, Buddy ended up sitting on the couch next to me.

He walked around during the shows, and at one point hop/fluttered onto the floor. I remember freaking out a bit and getting down on the floor with him, but mostly I let him explore. I talked to him a lot.

I don’t remember if I returned him to his cage before my parents woke up or not, but I do know that by the end of that first little session of watching TV together, Buddy and I were well on our way to bonding. He was fluffing up his feathers when I talked to him, and walking over to me any time he wandered away too far and I made a sound at him.

Buddy was becoming more than just my first pet – he was quickly becoming a friend. And that he stayed for the rest of his life.